Towards kitchen sustainability

Posted 4/17/24

When I hear Zero Waste

So flashy, all or nothing, one of those bossy change maker fad ideas. ZERO Waste is daunting, and unsustainable in its absoluteness, and not welcoming with an …

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Towards kitchen sustainability


When I hear Zero Waste

So flashy, all or nothing, one of those bossy change maker fad ideas. ZERO Waste is daunting, and unsustainable in its absoluteness, and not welcoming with an all-or-nothing approach to conservation. Must everything be a competition? Instead of inspiring, it’s immobilizing.

My path towards kitchen sustainability, crippled with setbacks, is humbling. I readily admit my bad habits frequently resurface and there are plenty of times when convenience wins out over conscience.



I improve most when I integrate changes into the systems I already have and can effortlessly repeat them. Currently, I’m going in the right direction with saving kitchen scraps for my son’s chickens instead of putting them into the garbage. Recycling and worm composting, buying in bulk, and shopping the perimeter of the grocery saves money and packaging, and is healthier.

Taking my shopping bags to the store. My appliances are now smaller and more efficient. I’ve given up plastic wrap, aluminum foil, commercial cleaning supplies and use baking soda, white vinegar and soap instead. We rarely waste food, eating leftovers, using trimmings for stock, and giving away extra food to extended family and friends. If I make too much, I’ll send a text to a friend and ask if they’d like dinner.



I use more water than I’d like. We accumulate too much non- recyclable packaging! I can’t seem to give up ziplocks or my plastic storage containers.


Sustain a Change

It makes me happy when I sustain a change. Last summer we bought stainless drinking straws, a soda stream, and reusable freezer molds for treats. One small choice leads to another, and I’m definitely farther along the path than I was. These steps interconnect, influence and reinforce each other. How I cook influences what I cook, which influences what I buy, and how I dispose of and recycle what’s left. Habits build on one another, forming a foundation for further changes.


Values + Decisions = Actions

I don’t strive for perfection, but believe in making choices based on values. Deciding becomes easier when you know what matters.

It’s a win-win when doing what’s right also saves money, time, effort and brings joy and deliciousness into my kitchen. By taking these baby steps, one by one, we’re all reaching numbers larger than zero.


Love to Hear From You

What’s a small ecological victory that you’re sustaining in your kitchen? A habit or change that you’ve made that you feel good about?


First Three Replies

Terri: We do a lot of composting and keep a bin in the kitchen. I have beans in my pantry, and two small Aero gardens growing greens in the kitchen. I’m interested in this post and learning what others do.


Alice: The decision to start from scratch and buy bulk was a significant change. It cuts down on decision fatigue, saves money and simplifies meal planning. Book: “Living the good life” by Helen and Scott Nearing was influential. I read it thirty years ago, and it still means a lot to me.


Brian: We grow a lot of our own food. I like to produce more of what I like best, which of course ends up being more economical in the kitchen as you tend to eat more of what you grow.



Preheat the oven to 300F. Lay 12 unwrapped cubes of unsalted butter (3 lbs.) in the bottom of a large casserole or other heavy-bottomed pan. Add whatever whole spices you are using.

Allow the butter to melt, uncovered and undisturbed, until there is a layer of solid foam on the top. The foam will look crusty around the edges and even darker than the center. Clear amber-colored ghee will be in the middle and lumps of golden solids on the bottom. This will take approx. 1 hour, maybe longer.

Skim off the foam with a slotted spoon and then pour the remaining ghee through cheesecloth set over a strainer over a bowl, you can strain it twice if it’s cloudy.

Pour into glass storage containers and store in the refrigerator.


Some Spice Options:

Ethiopian Nit’r Qibe: 12 opened cardamom seeds, 2 teaspoons wholefenugreek, 2 teaspoons nigella seed

Cumin flavored ghee: 3 tablespoons whole cumin seeds

Ginger ghee: 2-inch piece of ginger root sliced


Sidonie Maroon, Culinary Educator for the Food Co-op